Iran always seems to be at odds with the Western world yet it hasn’t stopped the Middle Eastern nation from becoming one of the strongest Asian sides in football. Iranian football players regularly head to Europe to test themselves in some of Europe’s greatest leagues, including the English Premier League.
Since the Premier League formed in 1992, only 5 Iranian football players have competed in the competition to a mixed range of success. No Iranian has won the title outright but some have put in impressive individual efforts that earned plaudits and awards for their efforts. So who were the five Iranian football players to appear in the Premier League?
The 5 Iranian football players in the Premier League
Karim Bagheri (Charlton Athletic)
The first Iranian in the Premier League was Karim Bagheri – a midfielder who joined Charlton Athletic in 2000 from Saudi Arabian side Al Nasr. Bagheri only featured once for The Addicks in a substitute appearance against Ipswich, as injuries and personal issues disrupted his attempts to settle in London.
Having got disillusioned with life, Bagheri ditched Charlton after just one season and moved to Qatar with Al Sadd. A brief introduction as to what Iranian football players could produce in the Premier League.
Andranik Teymourian (Bolton, Fulham)
Andranik Teymourian moved to England as a promising talent hoping to realise his form in one of Europe’s top leagues. It had brief flashes of promise with Bolton in the 2006/07 season with a brace against Wigan showcasing what he can do on his day and earned him a man of the match award. With Bolton fading in the Premier League, Teymourian moved to Fulham in 2008 but once again struggled to break into the first team.
A brief loan to Barnsley raised some hopes of the creative midfielder finding form but he never got a break and left Craven Cottage to move to Iranian side Tractor Tabriz where he became a top player in the domestic league.
Ashkan Dejagah (Fulham)
Having been raised in Germany, Ashkan Dejagah had proven himself in Germany with Hertha Berlin and Wolfsburg before joining Fulham in 2012. A lively passer and creative force, Dejagah was given plenty of opportunities to shine at Craven Cottage as they battled against relegation.
He had a strong 2013/14 season scoring 5 goals in 23 games and earning several man of the match awards. However, Fulham were relegated at the end of the 2013/14 season and Dejagah left London and moved to Qatari side Al-Arabi. Dejagah left English football on a high as Fulham named him Player of the Season in 2014 marking the first award for Iranian football players in the Premier League.
Alireza Jahanbakhsh (Brighton)
Alireza Jahanbakhsh was one of Europe’s hottest strikers in 2018 as he enjoyed excellent scoring form in Holland with AZ Alkmaar. This form enabled the versatile striker a big move to Brighton who were looking for someone to lead the line. His debut season was disrupted by injuries but Jahanbakhsh had a breakthrough in the 2019/20 season where he scored an excellent bicycle kick against Chelsea in 2020.
It was an effort that won the Premier League Goal of the Month in January 2020 – the only league award won by Iranian football players in the Premier League. It would be the brightest moment for Jahanbakhsh in England who would endure a goalless season after that reward. After his poor form, the winger left Brighton returning to Holland with Feyenoord in August 2021.
Saman Ghoddos (Brentford)
When Brentford earned promotion to the Premier league, they did this with a cosmopolitan squad made of players of many nationalities. One of which was Saman Ghoddos – an Iranian forward who could play anywhere in the final third.
Ghoddos slowly earned his way into The Bees starting lineup after excellent form in The Championship and his sneaky runs into the box has made him a fan favourite in West London. Ghoddos would bag his first goal in a 3-1 loss to Burnley in October 2021 marking the latest chapter in Iranian players venturing into the Premier League.
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